WASHINGTON (Reuters)—U.S. President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders appeared on Wednesday to be losing the battle to get enough support in the House of Representatives to pass their Obamacare rollback bill, watched by wary investors in financial markets.
The current House Republican rollback plan is scheduled for a floor vote on Thursday but faces stiff resistance from some conservative Republicans, who view it as too similar to Obamacare, and from moderates concerned it will hurt some voters.
Mark Meadows, who heads the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said after a White House meeting with Vice President Mike Pence that his group had more than enough members to stop the bill from passing, although he remained hopeful for potential changes to the legislation.
Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, the measure’s leading proponent, can afford to lose only about 20 Republican votes or risk failure, since Democrats are united against it. A Freedom Caucus aide said more than 25 of its members were opposed.
“Based on the resolve (of conservatives) and the lack of changes in the bill, I would be very doubtful it would pass,” Meadows said.
A senior House Republican aide said there were no plans to pull the bill or delay the vote.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the administration was optimistic, citing a couple of lawmakers who had been opposed but now supported the bill.
“The count keeps getting stronger for us,” he said at a White House briefing, while declining to provide a current count of where votes stood.
Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong also did not give a potential vote count and said Ryan was still talking with colleagues to build support.
Repealing and replacing Democratic former President Barack Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act is a first major test of Trump’s legislative ability and whether he can keep his big promises to business.
Trump’s promises during his election campaign and his first two months in office have lifted U.S. stock markets to new highs. But stocks fell back sharply on Tuesday as investors worried that a rough ride for the healthcare legislation could affect his ability to deliver on other big pieces of his agenda, from cutting taxes and regulation to boosting infrastructure.
Investors were waiting to see what would come of Thursday’s healthcare vote, after the benchmark stock indexes posted their biggest one-day loss since before the November election on Tuesday.
“The Trump agenda is like a one-lane road with this big truck called ‘healthcare’ in the lead,” said Brookings Institution senior fellow William Galston. “If that truck breaks down, everything else will back up.”